Saturday, November 20, 2010

African American Environmental Association: 25th Anniversary


By Norris McDonald

Today is our 25th anniversary.  We was incorporated on November 20, 1985.  The African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA) is the outreach arm of the Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy (Center).

You can see a listing of many of our activities during that time at our original website, which we converted to Multiply when the original Msn Groups platform ended).  There is more activity information at our History page. My career has been very satisfying.  From my beginning in the Fall of 1979 at the Environmental Policy Center (now Friends of the Earth) until today, the adventure has been incredible.  I started out in the Washington, D.C.-based environmental movement.  Jimmy Carter was president and was just finishing a rough 4-year run.  I shook his hand at the Democratic National Convention in New York in 1980 not knowing that Washington was about to get a completely new makeover.  The Reagan era was interesting and quite the challenge for the environmental movement.  I still remember his 'no standard standard' for appliance efficiency standards.  I also remember the Air Florida crash and the Metro subway accident on the day that I was walking back from the U.S. Department of Energy after testifying on appliance standards.

Well, without sounding like the old guy in the room sharing old war time stories that nobody really wants to hear, the situation today is as exciting as ever.  We are embarking on trying to build biomass power plants in Mississippi, California and in Kenya.  The adventure continues and I am having more fun than ever.  Our team is lean and mean and green. 

I have kept the AAEA small on purpose and will continue to do so.  I almost died from respiratory failure in 1991 and 1996 (intubated for 4 days in ICU each time).  After getting divorced and full custody of my son when he was 2 years old, I decided that I wanted to stick around to see my son grow up.  But I also wanted to continue with my entrepreneurial environmentalism.  So keeping it small worked.  Although I still struggle with a chronic acute asthma that could kill me any day, my son is now 18 and I am still 'doing my green thing.'  Life is good.  Hey, and we just opened a new Center Hollywood blog this week (Also see AAEA Hollywood).  Oh, and if you're feeling generous, feel free to click on our Donation button on our sites.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Woodchip-To-Methane-To-Electricity Plant for Kogelo

AAEA Kenya, in cooperation with National Clean Fuels (NACF), intends to develop a ten-megawatt woodchip-to-methane-to-electricity plant in Kogelo, Kenya. We are recommending the construction and operation of a wood chip to electricity plant with accompanying substation and electricity transmission and distribution lines. The Center and NACF is presenting this proposal to the Kenyan government and other local stakeholders in order to get approval to proceed with the project.

We envision a ten megawatt, wood chip/sawdust syngas turbine power plant that will operate as a base load unit.  We expect of capacity factor of above 90 percent.  It is anticipated that the plant will consume approximately ten tons of wood chips per hour.  We expect the plant construction and engineering services costs to be approximately $5 million.  The facility will need an interconnect  and purchase agreement with the national utility, Kenya Power and Light.

The power plant will couple a wood gasifier to a turbine, which will more than match the efficiency (30-35%) of conventional coal-fired power stations in converting fuel to electricity. Potential benefits include worthwhile cost savings as well as the "greenhouse-friendly" replacement of fossil fuels with a renewable energy source.  A key requirement in developing a practical unit that will run with minimal attention, will be devising an automated handling system that provides a constant supply of chipped wood to the gasifier. Gasifiers generally run on a portion of the supplied feedstock as well as converting the balance of it to a fuel for other applications.

AAEA President Norris McDonald and NACF principal Maurice Stone met with Kenyan Ambassador Elkanah Odembo at a National Black Chamber of Commerce Conference in Los Angeles, California to discuss the power plant project.

Maurice Stone, Ambassador Elkanah Odembo, Norris McDonald